Injury Aftermath: Wild-Card Round
Our attention now shifts exclusively to the teams that remain alive in the playoffs, with the exception of major injuries to eliminated teams.
Los Angeles Rams at Green Bay Packers (Saturday, 4:35 p.m. EST)
Rams quarterback John Wolford left Saturday's game against the Seahawks with a stinger, and he is considered day-to-day. How that injury responds to treatment and likely rest during the week will dictate his game status for Saturday afternoon. Usual starter Jared Goff was healthy enough to replace Wolford after the latter's injury, but neither healthy enough to start nor as effective as the team would usually expect in relief. Another week removed from thumb surgery should benefit Goff, but he is unlikely to be fully healthy. Formers Jaguars starter Blake Bortles, who started Jacksonville's divisional-round victory over the Steelers during the 2017 postseason, has been signed to the active roster as an emergency third option. Elsewhere on the Rams, defensive tackle Aaron Donald left Sunday's game with a rib cartilage injury, but the team does not expect that to impact his game status for the trip to Green Bay. Receiver Cooper Kupp is suffering from knee bursitis and offensive lineman David Edwards is playing through Achilles tendonitis. The team likewise hopes to have both available against the Packers. Green Bay entered the bye with few injury concerns on their active roster. Edge rusher Kingsley Keke and guard Simon Stepaniak should be healthy following the rest week. Packers injury news is still dominated by the season-ending injury to David Bakhtiari on New Year's Eve. Billy Turner and Rick Wagner started at left and right tackle, respectively, in Week 17, so that seems the most likely deployment against the Rams.
Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (Saturday, 8:15 p.m. EST)
As expected, the Ravens did not have any players who were inactive for injury reasons against the Titans. They did not sustain any new injuries either. With the exception of long-term absentees such as Ronnie Stanley, the Ravens may be the healthiest they have been all season. Bills halfback Zack Moss suffered a likely high-ankle injury against the Colts, which could end his season regardless of how far the Bills advance in his absence. High-ankle sprains usually mean at least a month-long absence for running backs, and around 80% of players who suffer them miss at least three weeks. If Moss' injury is relatively low grade, he may have a chance to return for a potential Super Bowl appearance. He is very unlikely to feature again in the AFC playoffs. Receiver Cole Beasley, the team's biggest injury concern ahead of the weekend, started and played the full game. He should be back to full participation this week.
Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday, 3:05 p.m. EST)
The biggest concern for the Browns ahead of their game against Pittsburgh was the number of COVID-related absences, but the team has been given the all-clear from the latest round of testing and should have their absentees back against Kansas City. Linebacker B.J. Goodson injured his shoulder against the Steelers, but he was able to return to the game and does not appear to be a doubt for next Sunday. Offensive tackle Jack Conklin injured his hamstring. Around half of hamstring injuries to offensive linemen cause missed time, but the injuries are usually short-term. Given the stakes, Conklin is more likely than usual to play against Kansas City if he is at all capable of doing so. Fellow lineman Michael Dunn, who started in place of COVID absentee Joel Bitonio, injured his calf. Calf injuries to linemen do not usually result in significant absences, but Bitonio should be clear to return this week so Dunn is unlikely to start against the Chiefs regardless. Most of the injury concerns for the Chiefs ahead of their bye were exactly the sort of soft-tissue sprains and strains that the bye week is perfect to alleviate. Halfback Clyde Edwards-Helaire remains absent, though he will hope to make a return at some point during the postseason. Tyreek Hill's hamstring and Sammy Watkins' calf have enjoyed another week of rest and rehabilitation, and their status does not appear to be in any doubt, especially as Kansas City also rested many of their starters in Week 17.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 6:40 p.m. EST)
Buccaneers halfback Ronald Jones was active as he tried to play through an existing thigh injury against Washington, but he ultimately did not participate in the game. When questioned afterward, head coach Bruce Arians was uncertain about Jones' status for next weekend. Most quad injuries to halfbacks do not cause any missed games, and 75% of players who suffer them are back on the field within a week or so, so Jones has a strong chance to play in New Orleans. Right guard Alex Cappa suffered an ankle fracture that will end his season. Ted Larsen replaced Cappa against Washington and will likely assume his spot in the starting lineup. Receiver Mike Evans and cornerback Carlton Davis, who were injury concerns ahead of the game, both started and finished the game without any issues. Defensive lineman Jeremiah Ledbetter was inactive due to a calf injury, and halfback LeSean McCoy was ill. Defensive tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Devin White both missed the game on the Reserve/COVID list, but both were activated to the roster today. Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson and halfback Latavius Murray did not return after suffering thigh injuries late in the victory over the Bears, but that may have been precautionary due to the game situation. As with Ronald Jones, most thigh injuries do not cause absences and those that do are usually short-term.
Seahawks safety Jamal Adams has a torn labrum in his shoulder, which will require surgery. It is likely that Adams has been playing through the injury for some time, and he would have continued to do so had the Seahawks advanced. He should be fine for the start of the 2021 regular season.